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Sunday, 8/22 Better "today," and my water therapy exercises

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I took the bull by the horns this weekend and worked on regaining control over many of the things bothering me. I can't seem to get control over my physical pain, but this has been going on for so long that it is not really much of a surprise. However, I have lead my family by the hand to get their help with a number of tasks that were an issue (to me at least.) They did some things I have been waiting for and i solicited promises for a reasonable few other activities as well--and they know they have to be completed before Mitchell returns home with his girlfriend on his birthday on Thursday. The house and yard need attention and some of it is just needed before we have company. It is also needed before we go on our weekend trip to meet up with one of my spark friends in Amana. I am looking forward to that mini-trip and so are they, so they know that Mama should be happy before the fact. I had to postpone from this week because of too many kids' things going on. I might threaten to leave them all behind if they haven't done their part--but I am definitely going to go.

We did get enough accomplished today that I also planned some family R&R for this evening--we just returned home from a picnic in the brand new park in Rock Island. (They moved the casino from being a waterbased riverboat to a landbased "boat on a moat" that isn't really a boat at all. That left this beautiful piece of land along the Mississippi River downtown and the city and the park board did a nice job of creating a beautiful family park with a pavilion, a beautiful up-to-date playground area for little kids and bigger kids with a sprayground, a nice picnic area, and access to the riverfront for fishing and just chilling out and enjoying. We took a nice meal of baked chicken, salads, veggies, watermelon and zucchini brownies to enjoy (and I am still stuffed!!) Then we spent time walking around and absorbing all that this new park has to offer. It was relaxing and fun. I can't believe that we have been home almost a half an hour and nobody has turned on a television yet. emoticon

I still have some homework to do--I need to start getting comfortable with the new reading program that I am supposed to use. I will be starting lessons completely on Tuesday and I want to feel comfortable with this new material. I'm going to close this in a bit, but I am also going to include an explanation of my water exercises as a "PS." I had a couple of requests, so I copied one of them and thought I'd put them on my blog for anyone else who needed something similar. Remember that these were from my physical therapist and were designed to help me with my core and to strengthen my knees, shoulders, and back. The other part is that is essential to hold in your tummy as you do all of these. I hope they help somebody... emoticon

Gentle hugs,

POOL EXERCISES (Thanks to Kira and Nettie, my physical therapists)

I start with walking in the pool and I begin with a lap frontwards, a lap backwards and one sidestepping. {*****All of the exercises that I don't mention how many to do, started out as a set of 10 without any resistance adding--the number increased by 5 and I now do 30 of each of them. When I got to 20, they added resistance that I will explain.******}
Next I go to the side of the pool where the water is waist deep (or a bit more) and I do squats using both legs, then one leg, and then the other. Next, I do an exercise in which I stand on my toes and then roll back on my foot to my heel and back--first with both feet, then one leg, and then the other. Next, I do kicks--I use a 1.5 pound weight around my ankles because I couldn't find the winged ankle things they used in therapy for resistance. I do kicks with one leg to the side and then the other. I follow those with "butt kicks" where I kick back towards my bottom at the knee. I then do full leg back kicks without bending my knees and finally I do front kicks where I turn around facing the water with my back against the side of the pool, and I raise my leg at the hip, kick forward, bring my leg back to the raised position and down.

After my kicks, I remove the weights and do "stars" for balance. It is called a star because you stand on one foot and then kick forward, back to center to the side, back to center, and to the back and back to the center. (I started with 5 each on the left leg and then the right--now I do ten of these.) After this, I do two other exercises that involve using a noodle or two. The first is to take the noodle in your hands while keeping your arms at your sides, you push it down into the water and bring it back to the surface. Then, I do the same with my arms still at my side, but I shift it to my right side rather than the center and push it down and up, then, I repeat the same on the left side. (For resistance with this one, tie the noodle into a knot that looks like a pretzel in the center--the extra surface provides resistance.) The other noodle activity I do is to step on the noodle in the center and push it into the water. I raise it by lifting my leg at the hip and then push it back down again. (For resistance with this one, I use two noodles--that is all my foot is big enough to hold down.) Repeat this with the other leg.

After this, I go to the stairs and place my left foot on the second stair and it holds my weight as I use my right leg to "partially climb" from the first stair to that second stair and then go back for 5 reps (I now do 15 reps of this.) Repeat the exercise on the other foot. Finally, I go back to do my arm and shoulder exercises. I do these in water that is shoulder deep, but you could try them at any depth that is comfortable for you. I started these with no resistance and then they gave me these paddles to hold after I was at 25 reps, that I haven't been able to find anywhere. I use webbed swimmers gloves, but I have seen people with these plastic things they wear on their hands that would work as well for adding resistance. I start out by putting my arms out to my sides so my hands and arms are straight out. I move my arms simultaneously to the center and then back to the extended position at my side. The second exercise I do is to put my right hand down into the water and my left hand in front of me. Moving them simultaneously, but in alternating movements, the right arm comes up to the extended position in front and my left arm ends up down at my side, then move them back to the starting position. The third exercise I do involves one arm at a time and is a way to strengthen my shoulders. You simply have your hand extended in front of you and you move it in a way that simulates a figure eight in front of you. After you do one arm, you repeat it with the other. For all three of these, you begin with your hand cupped a bit so that you are pushing water and after you add resistance, you are pushing a greater amount of water.

I finish up with 2 laps of walking frontwards, then backwards, then side stepping. Now, I also swim some laps--I'm not a great swimmer and I do mine on my back. I started out struggling to do a couple of laps, but I can do at least ten these days. Depending on how many laps I do, it takes me from 90 to 120 minutes to do all of these exercises. I can do these at a slower pace if I am having a lot of pain or bump them up into cardio-level if I am feeling better.

I hope that that made sense. Like I said, I got these from my physical therapist and she put them on paper and laminated them so they are safe from the water--but her explanations include diagrams. (They make it a bit easier to explain.) If something doesn't quite make sense, please ask me to clarify what I have told you. It is hard for me to give you a good description when I have such a complete picture of them in my mind and I am not sure what I am not explaining well enough. I sure hope that somebody can use these. I find out that at the pool I go to, many of the "older" adults get a pair of exercise bars and go into the deep end and spend their entire afternoon talking out there. I am not sure what they are doing or how that is exercise, but I am not going to judge what I don't understand. I am glad to keep moving and to change activities as I work out--I would be bored crazy spending such a long time doing the same movement.

As I said before...Gentle hugs to you,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Wow! That's quite an exercise routine. I'm really impressed. Thanks for sharing them with us. I use some of them but will be using some of the ones I don't now that you've mentioned them. Love ya, Dawn

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JHADZHIA 8/22/2010 11:48PM

    Hi Sylvia,
Looks like things are going great for you, exercise wise. Those exercises are all familiar to me except I have never done the star in a pool, it was a balancing challenge on land for me (I am so bad with balance). You do a great job in the pool!!
glad you are getting your kids to help out around the house. They are certainly all old enough to do their share.
I am glad you had fun at the park! Sounds wonderful!
Get a good sleep and rest tonight, you have earned it!
Gentle hugs,

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MORTICIAADDAMS 8/22/2010 10:23PM

    I'm so glad the kids are helping you get control of things there. It is overwhelming the amount of work that we women have.

Your park visit sounded wonderful. I love to do things like that.

I hope you enjoy your mini trip!!

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Thursday, 8/19 I feel irritable and I hate it!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hi everyone,

What does the title of this blog say to you? I am on edge and although I can give you some reasons why and I can even justify my irritability, I hate feeling this way. I want to be laid back--at least at my regular level of comfort. I want to know how to get myself to that place. (Actually, I'll even toss in a disclaimer that nobody else seems to know that I am anxious and kind of in knots right now.)

OK. my sleep was repeatedly interrupted last night because of my lousy partner, pain. Yet this is nothing new to me and I manage myself better than I am right now. As I mentioned in my update--something really good came of my nighttime wanderings last night. One of our precious little teddy bear hamsters found himself out of the safety of the cage and was cornered on the entertainment center by a cat and 2 of our older kittens. I just love those tiny furballs and it would have broken my heart as well as my youngest son. I don't know how he got out of his cage and I cannot blame the kitties for going after a rodent. that is what kitties do.

School is getting into full swing for me, but today was full of interruptions that prevented me from seeing the majority of my kids. These were scheduled interruptions and some of them left me with a bit of free time. However, I am pretty dedicated to my students and this kind of thing has always bugged me. It is what being part of a school community is about. I have had to rewrite my schedule every day since I finished it--and now I am up to 43 students, which is a pretty big case load. I did give myself time for lunch and some prep as well though.

My two youngest children return to school tomorrow--Marissa is a sophomore and is really looking forward to Driver's Ed--not I, but again, I have dealt with that 6 times before her. Micah is starting junior high tomorrow--this is a new thing, given the fact that he is my baby and it seems like "not so long ago" that he was born and we were leaving the hospital together. (My husband took him to the dotor for me this morning and it turns out that he now has dual ear infections on the tail of that viral pneumonia he recently had, poor guy.) Two of my other kids go back to college in the next week and a half and that is going to take a chunk of change from our budget--that is something that parents of 8 children have to deal with constantly and as much as I hate thinking about money, I know this, too will work out just fine. I have 2 sons still looking for jobs--and one who would really like to make a shift from being a substitute teacher to having a regular teaching position. I sure wish I could make that happen for him, he is a natural teacher and does a wonderful job. (And it is so even with my bias!) Anyway, none of these things are new--they are stressful, but not horribly so.)

I have a lot of chores to do around our house. I have tried to get some help with things, but the kids have forgotten or had their own things to do and places to go and so on and so on. this has been like a broken record around here since, well early spring, I am thinking. The garden needs attention--wow is it growing!! The yard needs attention as well. I just cannot seem to get to anything. I still have a lot of school things around the house that need to be stored or moved or something. There never is enough time for all of that stuff--I manage to get grocery shopping done and bills paid, but the rest happens as it will. And again, this isn't new frustration, it is "life as usual" in my world.

I think I have come full circle back to how I feel. I deal with some level of pain all of the time, that is what it is like to be me. My right arm is better with the brace on which makes me figure that I have do have a carpal tunnel issue. My shoulder pain is expanding into my neck now--but maybe, just maybe it will settle down before my appointment with the ortho on the 31st. Fibromyalgia stinks--I read an article yesterday about how they are treating it with a broad range of anti-depressants now because it actually protects people from some more explosive reactions to stress. REALLY?? The article explained how the pain of fibro actually distracts people from their stress. That article really ticked me off because it doesn't match my life or experience. I will even go so far to say that if the fibro would calm down--even a bit--my stress levels would also decrease.

Anyway, I fell asleep writing this and the TV in the other room startled me awake. Now that I am awake--well, maye I'll be back to sleep soon.

I'm not grumpy when I'm sleeping. Maybe it's all in my head.

Enjoy the oming weekend,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NPA4LOSS 8/22/2010 11:05PM

    It sounds like you all accomplished a lot and received a great reward of a Family Fun Night. emoticon emoticon

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MORTICIAADDAMS 8/22/2010 10:25PM

    I am praying for relief for your pain. emoticon

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NPA4LOSS 8/21/2010 10:37PM

    emoticon dear friend. I hope that you were able to get some emoticon Saying a prayer for you and yours emoticon emoticon

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    I am so sorry that you have so many struggles my friend. Just know that I love you and keep you in my prayers daily. Bright blessings to you and your family. Love, Dawn

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JIM*S_QUEENIE 8/20/2010 8:08PM

    Oh, my sweet friend,
I don't wish I could trade places with you as I don't think you would like the pain I go through, throughout my back, neck and other places. But, I do wish the pain would cease for you, even if just for a while or a couple of days. I use Lidocaine patches and they seem to help temporarily for about 9 hours anyway. Ask your dr. to prescribe them for you - about 3 a day for as long as he will - like 3 months worth. That will give you a few extra days of extras.
Well sweetie, it is dinner time and I must go. I did write you other notes, as well.
Peace, love and blessings,

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EMRANA 8/20/2010 9:29AM

  I've been on anti-depressants for years because I have clinical depression. I also have fibro, and it does not help my fibro pain, unfortunately. I hate to contradict the experts, but obviously they don't have fibro.

I was given amitryptiline (sp?) a few years ago in addition to my Celexa and all that did was make me tired and put more weight on me. I actually slept up to 18 hours a day on the weekends with it. I went off it because I couldn't deal with the relentless fatigue during the work weeks and then having no life or time to do anything when I actually had "me time." The weight gain was alarming too. I'd already gained from other meds, so I really didn't need any help from this stuff.

I can relate to wanting to be laid back as usual. I am normally very spiritually balanced but being pushed back to work by my disability insurance carrier has wreaked havoc on me. I'm still on half days, but it's so hard. I read your blog and said YES! That's exactly how I am feeling too. I am sending you some very understanding ~ and gentle since we both hurt ~ emoticon

At least I am the opposite of you sleep-wise. My pain puts me in a coma sleep. My issue is that I sleep too much.

If you can afford help at all, it makes a huge difference to get help around the house. I pay $40 a month to have a local cleaning company come and do my bathroom and kitchen. I finally admitted that my spine is not going to manage to do those things, and my husband is not going to do them consistently either. It's worth squeezing that $40 from our tight budget. It doesn't have to be help with eveyrthing, just with the thing or two that causes you the most pain. That's a huge stress of your shoulders and fibro.

YAY for the hamster rescue! I love those little guys too!

Have a great weekend, my friend!

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Tuesday, 8/10 Arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, and other unpleasantries

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hi everyone,

Today was a classic doctor's appointment--one similar to so many I have had before. Let me scoot back to what took me there. For the past few weeks, I have had an irritating pain in my right shoulder. I had left shoulder pain for a long time, but my most recent physical therapy included treatment for that, so I continue to do those exercises along with my leg and back physical therapy work. (One day the life guard commented on the fact that I spend almost 2 hours in the pool and don't get to play--I do play after my exercises are finished.) That seemed to coincide with all of the unpacking, which had actually slipped my mind until the doctor was questioning me today. my shoulder has been aching and hurting a bit more each day. I thought it was yet another unpleasant fibromyalgia flare. However, Sunday night it went crazy. It was throbbing and burning and the pain was shooting down my arm all the way to my wrist. My hand was tingling and my fingers stayed cold, and I was miserable, My regular pain meds decided not to be bothered with helping me out. Sleep wasn't possible because this was so intense and overwhelming. I went to work Monday and by then, it seemed as if any bit of movement around me aggravated it more. The one bit of luck is that I called right after somebody canceled an appointment, so I got in this morning at 8:30.

I got there and went back for the necessary x-rays. I have such an intense bunch of health issues that x-rays really torture me--lie here move this this way, turn a bit, stand right here, lie on your back (or side.) I come away from any x-ray with a lot of pain and sometimes tears. This set of x-rays didn't let me down and hurt enough to make me shed a couple of little tears. Then I got to see the doctor really quickly. (I usually have to go to appointments late in the day, after work and at that time, it doesn't matter which doc I see--except my PCP who is big on appointment times--I end up doing a lot of sitting and waiting. I didn't have any f that with my appointment this early. My x-rays showed my typical arthritic damage, but there weren't gigantic bone spurs or massive floating junk--YAY. There was evidence of bursitis, which I haven't had in any joint, but that fluid build up could be seen by the way the rotor cuff was pushed around. I got a cortisone injection to deal with that, but that wasn't all--I may have damage in my neck and when I see this doc again on the 31st, we will decide if I ned to go back to my neurosurgeon about it. the other thing is that it is likely that part of my pain is caused by carpal tunnel--so I have to wear this brace except when i am in the pool or shower. I will be having an EMG test (I think that's what it was called) and then we will see if I need surgery. I don't do anything easily and that is why I knew this extreme pain was likely something that needed attention.

The doctor said that I really need to be on some sort of anti-inflammatory medication. I cannot take NSAIDS due to my stomach and Celebrex caused me to have congestive heart failure, so it is out. I think my arthritis is my issue to bear. I also think that my fibromyalgia is on fire again. I'm due for another Kenalog injection in early October--but that is a ways a way. I can only have one every 6 months, but it takes the edge off of this stuff.

So, as things are at this second--my shoulder is burning and aching seriously, so there goes the idea of immediate relief from the injection. I hope to have some of that residual relief that you can get over a couple of weeks from having one. My arm is still shooting pain, but my wrist and hand feels better with this brace on. I am saying a prayer that the idea of my neck having any issue is just plain wrong. I have had too much trouble at the lumbar area of my spine to be able to deal with the same stuff at the cervical area. the other thing that is an issue is that I walk with a walker--having my shoulder and arm in pain and stress is a definite hindrance. I am noticing the thing I experienced when arthritis was destroying my knees--the left arm that is doing all of the work is now aching and I am experiencing shoulder pain that isn't quite like the other arm, but I am getting the radiating pain down into my hand. I am wondering if I have carpal tunnel issues in one hand, if it is likely that I have it in the other. (I am guessing the source of the carpal tunnel, if it is what this pain is, is the repetitive use of my hands on my walker--and with a cane and crutches for years before the walker. I used to refer to this idea as my reciprocal pain.

OK. I had to work until 7PM because of our "Back to School Night" and I lost out on getting to the pool. I am almost stuck in being able to select children and I plan to go into classrooms and teach and assist classroom teachers so they can test our many new kids and get the scores I need to do my job. I will have fun, I have selected a silly children's book to enjoy with the kids and then we will do some follow-up drawing and writing. It's a way to teach and I'm looking forward to it. In the past, children have been the one distraction to the pain that arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia and other unpleasantries give me.

Do me a favor--if you have someone in your life who lives with any of these conditions, please lend them a hand with something physical that they need to do (unless this person could be you--then, do something nice for someone and ask them for help. It will make that person feel good, possibly honored to being trusted like that. This way, everyone wins. It took me a while to finally understand that my being stubborn and trying to do everything myself was not only mistreating my body, but it took away an opportunity for somebody else to feel good by doing something for me.

That is my story today and yesterday and for the last fifteen or more years of my life. Constant pain that isn't manageable adds an element to day to day living that really stinks. This is the reason that I knew I needed to lose weight and regain control over my own body in every way that I could. Losing over 100 pounds has taken a lot of pressure off of my knee replacements and I'm hoping that it will add years to their functionality. Losing over 100 pounds has taken a lot of pressure off of my back so that I can continue to be upright. This wasn't even a choice for me. I am excited that I am currently exercising every day when I once believed that I could never exercise. I am even more excited that I like my exercise program and that I do everything in my power to follow through with it each day. I also have an alternative set of activities that I do if I can't get to the pool.

Who'd have thought that somebody like me would be like that?
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticonGentle hugs,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINIWILLBE21 8/18/2010 11:58PM

    Hi Sylvia,

emoticon emoticonand emoticon emoticon!

I hope you are feeling better - I think of you often!!


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NPA4LOSS 8/14/2010 7:40PM

    I read an article on SparkPeople this morning about exercises for Carpal tunnel which I also have and have had for years. I wear the splints every night to sleep with. I hope that you have some relief soon. I also cannot take NSAIDS but I am having good luck with a low dose of tramadol at night when going to bed. I hope that you are feeling better soon. emoticonNola

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    You're always in my thoughts and prayers my friend. I am so sorry that you're in so much pain. Love ya, Dawn

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MORTICIAADDAMS 8/11/2010 12:11PM

    I am so sorry about this pain and hope it is short lived. Maybe the shot and brace will help once you have a chance to rest some.

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JRSWHIMSY 8/11/2010 11:46AM

    Sylvia, whenever I read your blogs like this it always makes me sad for you but also proud of you. With everything you have to deal with you're still pushing through and helping kids and loving your family. You are an amazing woman!

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EMRANA 8/11/2010 9:23AM

  Sending you lots and lots of GENTLE emoticon to help you cope with your pain, beautiful Sylvia. I deal with the lumbar but not upper body except when my fibro flares. I can't imagine going through all that at the same time!

You're right about the asking for help too. I am finally learning that.

Brilliant blog post from you ~ again. Thanks for sharing!

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MUSIC66 8/11/2010 3:56AM


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JHADZHIA 8/11/2010 3:17AM

    So sorry you are having such a rotten week :(( They certainly are unfeeling when they push and prod you around for X-Rays. Although I try usually warm them ahead of time, my elbow will only go this far, and no you can't place it that way and sometimes they will use a foam cushion to make it easier for me to hold the position as close as to what they want. Maybe if you told them straight up how painful it is for you to hold or be in certain positions, they may get a little creative to make you more comfortable. Suffering in silence will get you no help at all. Patients don't stand up for their rights as much as they should.
It is not hard to see that some of your problems would stem from relying on a walker, including your neck as well as your hands and arms. I have not see one person using a walker that has a good posture. They are all generally hunched over forward over the walker. And my building has a high number of users. The neck takes a real beating. That, and the arthritis produce a double whammy.
I hope you get some relief soon. I am a little surprised they haven't had you in splints already. I have dealt with splints right from when I first got the disease, to provide resting relief for the joints as well as to help keep stability and proper position in them.
It especially important now to ask for help where ever you can, so please stick to that plan..
Hope for a better tomorrow for you.
{{{{gentle hugs}}}

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HKSMPP 8/11/2010 1:52AM

  i feel so bad for you, i reallt wish there was something i could do for you.im having a hard week mentally, which ended up in a 4 lb gain.i think my depression and lack of me time didnt help me this week!ill add you to my prayers, you are a great lady...take care emoticon emoticon

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BEAR_GURL 8/11/2010 1:05AM

    Oh sweetie...I hate to hear you feel so bad! I can relate to your pain (and lately my meds aren't doing much to help either) and have cried throughout many an x-ray myself; have the docs decided what's causing the most pain?

I know its tough, but hang in there and hopefully, they'll be able to do something to alleviate the pain! Best wishes and I hope you begin to feel better soon: )



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Sunday, 8/8 A blog, some tears, family and LEARNING!!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Hi everybody,

It has been an interesting weekend--and I have learned a lot! emoticon

I wrote a blog yesterday that was a deep truthful piece from my heart. It was really long and I apologize--but once I started going back in my life, I couldn't seem to quit. I was sharing my story and I was figuring things out. The reason I bring it up is that although it isn't a blog like the one I wrote that got a lot of attention and visitors and an award for--this one gave me responses that actually made me cry. I cannot believe how many people care about the pain in my heart and how many people have had something similar. What really brought those tears from me was how many of your told me that I was a good person, that I was worthwhile, and that I have done good for them. That made me cry. It was like when I was sent an email that I had been chosen as an SP Motivator. I am not sure how I have done that--all I have done is what I do. I talk to people and share what I think can help them or I reinforce what is going well for them or let them know the truth that one mistake on their part won't ruin their accomplishments and that they can do this. I believe all of that and I talk from my heart and my own experience. It doesn't seem to me that I have done anything special, but enough of you have told me so (and I am not looking for you to give me any pats on the back here--I am thinking out loud) that I am going to think about how someone really helps others and what it looks like. (That may be a different blog.)
emoticon for those beautiful words. Crying emoticonis emoticonsometimes.

emoticon emoticon emoticonI went with my son Miles and we also took my youngest son Micah to this car thing he had wanted to go to. He had tickets to get in for free and that made it something that had to be done in a timely way. I kind of thought that his father or one of his brothers should have done it, but none of them would give him the time. It turned out that this was a tool company sponsored big drag racing thing. Oh boy--that is the furthest thing that anyone would expect me to do, and it is unlikely that I would do such a thing again--because of a lack of interest. However, even though I didn't like the sound or the smells there, I did like being with my sons. I think they learned some things from me about making mistakes and being both human and forgiving. I also realized how much I just enjoyed their company. It was fun to see Miles be the big brother and explain things to his little brother (They spend so much time quarreling that this was a pleasant change.) It was also good for Miles to be the expert and explain things to me--and I asked a ton of questions. (Miles is my 19 year old who is studying to be an auto-diesel mechanic. He has AD/HD, Asperger's Syndrome, and is gifted with special needs. His life has never been really straightforward and if I was ever going to write a book, it would definitely be based on any number of aspects of his life.) I learned good things at that event, but I am glad that we didn't stay until it was over for some additional hours after we left. emoticon

Our topic at church today was about having faith. That is an important part of the human condition--we have to have faith in certain things, no matter what. I believe that the light will come on if I turn the switch. I believe that I will do the right thing if I have to make a choice. I am a Christian and I believe many things because of that fact. It is easy to see how my pastor spoke for so long on this topic. I have faith that I will be taken care of in the big picture and that has an almost greedy feel to it sometimes--what a wonderful, comfortable gift. emoticon emoticon

It rained today and I wasn't sure I was going to get to go to the pool--uh, the water slide park/pool that we have access to while the fitness center is on its two week shutdown. I'm going to try and take some photos for a blog later this week. Anyway, it is also my daughter's birthday, but she couldn't be talked into coming. Miles and Micah joined me again. I did all of my exercises and some lap swimming--and then, the guys asked me to come down the waterslide. Having done similar things when we were at Wisconsin Dells not so long ago, I figured I could--but there were these two big flights of stairs and there is something wrong with my shoulder and my other heath issues right now. However, the guys said they would help me and that it would be fun--so with a double innertube thing in tow, they helped me climb up the stairs and get tot he top and we did it. It was fun. emoticon emoticonI think I had enough faith to let myself enjoy it.

As for Marissa, she got a lot of gifts from us and her siblings, her friends, and her godparents. Her big gift from us is a new bicycle. She has been moody this week, but I know that she has also been helping with a number of things as my life has been about this new school year and all I have had to do. She is now 15 and I know that if I blink my eyes she will be graduating from high school and moving on before I know it. Mitchell is home from his trip to Alaska, and he has been quiet and sleepy, but he came through with a few things I can count on today--supper was ready when I got home from the pool--he not only prepared it, but he bought the food as well--except for those yummy tomatoes out of the garden. emoticon emoticon (We finally have some watermelons growing too!!)

I have another hectic week coming up due to work related activities--the first part of the school year is the most crazy for a teacher--the second is parent-teacher conferences and the third is the end of the school year. We have our building open house on Tuesday and I have 2 doctor appointments this week. I'll be scheduling something for this shoulder as well. However, I know this will all work and happen. I know that I have a lot of support from wonderful places--my children, my adult children, my husband, my church, my friends, and last--but definitely not least--my SparkFriends and acquaintances who help me to understand that I have gifts to share with others. I value that and I am so glad that others see me as being someone who gives to others and has worth. You made me cry happy tears and I am thankful. I have faith and I know that you'll be here this week and that you will help me through this time when I am over-extended due to no fault of my own.
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Life is good!
Gentle hugs,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JIM*S_QUEENIE 8/20/2010 8:25PM

I don't know how you could not feel you deserved the SP Motivator of the Week. You are a very encouraging person and a great friend to many. You are doing a wonderful job raising your Christian minded children and having to take care of yourself at all times. I know your pain, profusely. A lot of the time, no matter what the drs. do for us, we still have to bare the pain that we endure. I am sorry for that and for you. I am always here for you, my friend.
It was wonderful to read the wonderful and good news about your children, too.
Here is to us who bare our pain on the cross!! Amen!!
Peace, love and blessings, my sweet friend,

Comment edited on: 8/20/2010 8:25:46 PM

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MORTICIAADDAMS 8/10/2010 11:16PM

    Your blog is always so interesting, Sylvia. You have a full life and make the most of it.

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JHADZHIA 8/9/2010 2:49PM

    Dear Sylvia,
You have always overcome your trials and tribulations with grace and faith. Its an entracing story that captivates and motivates people to do better for themselves.
There should be many more Sylvia fans to come!
Keep up the awesome work! No one has earned being motivator more!
{{{gentle hugs}}}

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SUNRISE14 8/9/2010 11:32AM

    Thank you for your blog and for sharing and caring! Thats what makes the world go around and having faith. Our pastor preached on never giving up last night. He is 56 and has agent orange from the service and had to go on dissablity. God is using him but he preaches the truth and between older people being sick some dying off and moving away there is only about 10 of us left there but we drive 35 mile round trip 2 times a week because he is a sincere christian and we learn and are encouraged from his messages. Have a good day! emoticon

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    You ALWAYS Motivate me! Glad that you got to enjoy the car show with your son and that Marissa had a nice birthday. Sorry that your schedule this week is going to be so hectic, but you're right.. we'll always be here for you. Love, Dawn

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MUSIC66 8/9/2010 4:29AM

    way to go on being motivator.

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JANEXA 8/9/2010 1:47AM

    Dear ENUFF81020: You deserve all the love and support you received because you ARE wonderful! Belated congratulations on becoming an SP Motivator, and know that you became one because you not only do the best you can, but more importantly, you keep on BEING the best you can be! May you continue to be blessed in your life, and know that sometimes it takes feeling low to truly enjoy the best times! Hugs, Janet emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Saturday, 8/7 FAT--yes this is about being FAT!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Hi there, dear friends!!

Something has happened that made me realize a few things about me and my world (both the real life one and my cyber life in this community!) I really don't like confrontation and anger. I am a fairly mild mannered--and meek person in most ways, unless my values or my passions are challenged. How did I get this way? It started when I was a young girl growing up. My parents were very young (My mother was 16 when she married my dad and gave birth to me 13 months later.) My dad had just gotten back from serving in the Korean War and it wasn't until he passed away that we found out the extent of what he dealt with. He NEVER talked about Korea and not one of us knew about the batch of medals and honors he was given. That is a pretty strong indicator that he saw and participated in some pretty nasty things. He had quit going to school at 16 and lied about his age to sign up for service and after whatever he had experienced, he came back at age 20 to marry my mother and begin his adult life. I know that this wasn't a totally unusual situation for people then--but it set up what my life was about.
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I was FAT. My very young parents wanted me to be as beautiful as they were and I was FAT. I was FAT when I started school at age 4 and that's the way it was. All of the women in my world were FAT except for my mother and two of her sisters. I got FAT some way and until this very second, I hadn't thought about that. Of course, being a FAT little 4 year old was most likely due to how I was cared for. However, I started school in pudgy sized clothes that were hard to find (except for my yellow Easter dress that actually was beautiful as I recall. It was ruffly and had a little jacket and the skirt would twirl as I spun around. I remember the time I got to wear it to school clearly. It was the only day I got in trouble with my teacher and it was because I wasn't quiet during rest time. I'm sure it had something to do with that yellow dress.)
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I was a bright, gifted child academically. I was a bit socially inept and craved attention from my peers, but I didn't quite know how to get it. At home, things were tough, my mother was often pregnant and I ended up with 6 brothers and sisters. But, I was the one that was FAT. That is what they noticed and hated. They didn't notice that I was a straight A student (although I had to work for that, it didn't always come naturally.) They didn't notice the things that made school so inviting to me. Teachers loved me and they helped me a lot. A teacher gave me my first book and I quickly learned a couple of my important life lessons. One was that I could get into a book and escape from whatever was going on--and I did it. I read everything I could get my hands on, starting at the beginning of second grade when I was 6 years old. The other lesson I learned was that if I had homework, my parents generally got off of my back and I had peace. I soon did every assignment above and beyond what was asked and all of the extra credit around whether I needed it or not. these two things saved this little FAT girl from a lot of anguish from ironing, dish washing, cleaning, changing diapers, and being screamed at and physically punished for being a FAT girl.
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They quit buying me clothes like the other kids, because there weren't plus-sized or many "chubby" sized things that were affordable for a young family. I remember getting beat in my head by both of them--slapped and screamed at in stereo for eating a bologna sandwich one night. I learned to sneak food into my room and hide it so that nobody would make fun of me or punish me for eating. and I became even more and more FAT. I looked awful most of the time wearing raggedy stuff that the kids at school made fun of. My skinny, cute sister had our closet full of clothes. She actually had things she wouldn't wear because she didn't like them. That was never a luxury I never had in my life.
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I/ thought that people would treat me the same way if I ate in front of them as I grew up and I really went through a lot in junior high and high school. I would hide my lunch and eat it before school or after school if I could keep it hidden. (If I brought back food, they took it away from me.) I got caught having eaten part of my school lunch before school the day I forgot it and my mom found it. That got me screamed at for many days and of course, the point was that if I wasn't such a FAT a$$, I wouldn't have done something so horrid. (I didn't want anyone to see me eating the chips and the Debbie cake that accompanied my sandwich, but I wanted to eat them because that is what she gave me.) By the way, my name at home wasn't Sylvia--I was named after my mother and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't call me "Little Sylvia" after a certain point, I became "FAT a$$." That is what they called me all of the time (unless others might hear.)
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I walked away from that when I was 18--I had just completed my first year of college and my first year of working full time at a nursing home. I worked a lot of hours and double shifts, and one day, the FAT a$$ talk pushed me over the edge. I took my few belongings and walked to a co-workers house. I left their car and their world and didn't go back to that. However, I was still FAT and I didn't want to be. I tried every diet and thing under the sun only to lose a lot of weight and then gain it back. I did it over and over again. I tried many times to rebuild a relationship with my family, but that just wasn't meant for me to do. When my father passed away, I was insulted and yelled at by my mother and sister--because I was there. I guess that made it my fault and as always, it made them all feel better to have their FAT a$$ around to blame things on. I sent my mother a couple of nice gifts for her first Thanksgiving season without my father (they had been married 49 years when he died of heart issues) and to my astonishment, she drove to our house and dropped them on my front porch without a word. I dried for hours and then realized what awful pain that relationship was capable of giving me. At that point, I finally realized (with a lot of help from my pastor and therapist) that it was time to let go of this "relationship" that had hurt me from the time I wore that yellow dress in school up until even now. And all of it, was because I was FAT (or so I thought from all that was said and done.) I have always felt the blame for the things that didn't work in my life as I became an adult, and it always came back to me being FAT.
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Anyway, it is time to put FAT a$$ into the real world. I have had 3 main jobs and about 3 others. I always have worked myself to the top of my area. I did that as a convenience store clerk--became the lead clerk and offered to go to the most difficult store. They let me manage part time, but i couldn't be a manager because I had another job. I started in education as an assistant in a Head Start classroom. I worked hard and went back to college and got credentials to be not only a lead teacher with national endorsements, but finished my bachelor's degree and was offered an administrative job. However, I finally got my elementary education offer and I jumped on that. After a couple of years, I went back to get my master's--but I went beyond that and got a K-12 specialist credential. I also became a trained Reading Recovery teacher which took a year to accomplish. (There are a few of us on SP, ask any of them about their training year!!) I went on and became Nationally Board Certified--and again, there are a few of us around here, ask about that year long process. I have been a leader in my schools and I have done wonderful things for the kids who need it most. I have been that overachiever my entire life--and I learned how to do that as an escape from abuse. I'm not sure why I have had to be that overachiever, because I also learned that nobody really cares what the FAT a$$ does as long as they don't have to look at me.
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Fast forward to today. I am working in a situation where my boss has been difficult with me and her comments have basically been about my appearance, not who I am or what I do. Instead of letting me do what I am best at, I have been pushed into strange little back rooms and kept out of anything that involves other people. It has been made clear that although I am a "wonderful teacher," that I am not to be in public places. Last May, after I had lost some 65 pounds, she finally made a comment to me, "Oh you look like you have been losing a bit of weight." A couple of days ago, she said to me (in a public group) "If Sylvia keeps losing weight, we will have to get safety pins to hold hr clothes up." Granted, it was some recognition of what I have worked so hard to do, but it was also on a day when I wore something a little new that isn't one of my few remaining FAT items. It's a good thing that I haven't done this for her or anyone but me and what I need in my life. I mention it because she has caused those old feelings to resurface for me and I feel like the FAT a$$ again.
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We found out this week that our school didn't pass the state requirements for reading last year. I was saddened for the children but not surprised, because last year was pretty tough for me. I had to teach in a lot of strange places that weren't conducive to the ways my children learn. (For example, I was on the school stage and while I taught, they buffed and shined the gym floor that connected, they delivered milk and food items for the cafeteria, and people used the stage as a short cut for them and their classes while I was trying to teach...and that was only a pat of it.) I was quiet and took a lot, and I internalized it. I didn't realize until recently that I AM BACK to being the FAT a$$. I have retreated rather than standing up for what is right. I am hiding from more conflict and pain.
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THIS is ALL about to change. I have to do that with my professional life, my family life and even my life here. I am doing the best that I can. My priorities in order are my faith, my family, my exercise plan, my job, and my cyber-world. I love everyone here, but my "real world life" has to come first. I am going to go to my email and delete a lot of old emails of team threads and blogs I haven't responded to, because I cannot do it. I have spent my summer moving two classrooms into one under enormous pressure about appearances. I gave my mornings for six weeks to a group of children at my church as the reading specialist I am and I made a positive difference in how their world will be this year. I also included many of my kids in this activity so they could see and learn what one person can do for the benefit of others. I have went to the pool everyday to get the exercise my damaged body needs and craves and I have done that with my kids in tow so we could take time to play and have fun together. I have given as much time to my family and enjoyed them as I have had. I have also gotten to some medium range goals and milestones here, and I have lost over 100 pounds and I have dropped below 200 pounds, after weighing well over 300 pounds most of my adult life. emoticon emoticon However, I am like you and I am a busy person.
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I have really thought about the time I spend at SP and I value it or I wouldn't do it. I have limits on my time and usually, I get around a half an hour after I work to go online for all of my business and then I get to come back after my time at the pool until I fall asleep in my chair with my computer and my kitty in my lap. My teams are important to me as well and I have chosen to be co-leader of the ones closest to my heart. I believe that I help others here and that helps me to be successful as well. It's a win-win situation. (I think that what I bring is my experience at being the FAT a$$ for my entire life, and at having success in spite of a body that has fought back and is permanently damaged.) I am lucky to be here and I cherish what I have been given. emoticon emoticonHowever, I have gotten behind and it is my intention to spend time at the pool today and with two of my sons at some "car thing." (Miles is training to be an auto-diesel mechanic and he really wants to go to this thing, so I will go with him so he can see the cars and tell me about things that I know little about and care even less about. That's what moms do for their kids.)
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So today, I am going to take some pressure off of this overachiever and former FAT a$$, so that I can manage my world without stress. I will also be a bit more feisty and I will be fighting for what I care about--be it my students and what they need, supporting Miles' car activities when this is my hard earned weekend, getting that fresh fruit I need, or justifying my time online and choice of exercise. I can do the important stuff well, but I can't do it all. I have to really "get" that in this coming year at a new school. I am setting the standard for the rest of my career and I am working towards weight loss into maintenance soon. I have to get things in order. I am going to fit the important stuff into my life while staying focused on my goals and priorities. I am no longer the FAT a$$!! emoticon emoticon
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I hope this wasn't too maudlin or disturbing for you to read, but this has been on my mind lately. I know there are lots of things that you can mention and point out that I haven't mentioned--like a few of my dear friends who have had my back over a lot of this and the fact that I have been with bosses and people in authority who appreciated me more than how I looked. yet, these people who have been able to get under my skin and hurt me in a variety of ways are the ones who just don't like a FAT a$$ and made it their business to get this one out of their sight and mind.
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Thanks for letting me get that off of my mind and for letting me off the hook.
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Gentle hugs,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 8/10/2010 11:14PM

    It was a wonderful blog, Sylvia. A triumph of the human spirit. Your family was cruel but in spite of that you turned out to be a wonderful person which proves that we don't have to be held back by our circumstances and can rise above it.

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MOLGRA2 8/9/2010 1:35AM


You have such an inspiring story, and have overcome so much - in so many ways. I am sorry to hear of your abuse, and know firsthand (I have an abusive father - though my mother bore most of the brunt of it, as mothers will do) how degraded and belittled it makes you feel. A friend once told me something that helped me a lot. It really helped me take my focus off my anger towards my father and apply it to making me a better person. Here it is; I hope it helps you too. Stop to consider that having these terrible things happen to you makes you more empathetic towards others. You strive to help those children that MOST NEED HELP. I know firsthand what a supportive person you are here. I do not have the honor or privilege of personally knowing your family, but I am sure you have wonderful children because you are such a great mom. You know what it is like to be picked on by those that are supposed to protect you, and you work hard to ensure it does not happen to anyone around you. Your life experience has led you to make a positive influence in the lives of so many people that you could probably not count them. I told someone else earlier tonight too that God does not give us a bigger cross than we can bear. Those people that have a strong inner strength get the bigger crosses because they are able to cope with them whereas others would stumble and fall under the strain. You must have a HUGE CORE of inner strength! Good Luck with your endeavors in getting things ironed out for yourself on the home front. Please let me know if I can help. emoticon

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    Thank you for sharing your very difficult story with us. I am sorry that you've had it so rough. Your courage to continue on and to share the journey with us is amazing. I love you! -Dawn

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JHADZHIA 8/8/2010 10:37AM

    You have done so well rising above that horrible background. But you do have to focus on your needs to complete the healthy lifestyle. Here is to giving yourself more 'me' time.. I will enjoy reading your blog all about maintenance to come :)
Gentle hugs

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AMBER_MLE 8/7/2010 7:46PM

    Thank you for sharing your life with us! It really is amazing that you've accomplished so much after being through so much, and it's all because of YOURSELF. You are a strong individual, and even after being abused and ridiculed for most of your life, you are still a supportive friend and a loving person. That's what really matters in life. =) emoticon

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EMRANA 8/7/2010 7:16PM

  What a soulful blog post ~ I'm so glad you've realized that you're not that awful name anymore and that you are beautiful Sylvia. I'm glad to be your Sparkfriend whenever you have time to be here. emoticon

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SUNRISE14 8/7/2010 6:18PM

    Wow you have come a looooong way ! I have experienced alot of the same things you have . My abuse while i was a child can't be spoken on this site . Both my parents died at 45 and 46 years old. Both were got saved before they died. I also have scares that only Jesus could help me with but he is there for us and loves us. I been reading your blogs and i am here for you if there is anything i can do to help you see your goals met. I was the child that stayed hide and had no friends and didn't fit in anywhere. I had 3 brothers and i was the only girl but life was always about the boys even down to their death beds but thats okay i won't let them take my happiness now i have got saved 37 years ago and i know one that loves me for what i am and i got the support of my husband . Live for YOU the others in your life that don't agree with you thats their loss! You are a beautiful person don't let anyone take that away from you! You are in my prayers! emoticon

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    Sylvia, I don't know you but thank you for helping to be an inspiration to me. Keep up the good work and remember that God sees and knows you......You are doing beyond a great job! You are doing the thing! I'm so proud of you!

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WENDYSPARKS 8/7/2010 5:29PM

    I read your blog. Sorry for the sadness in your life. Hang in there.

Wemdy emoticon emoticon

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MSWEEZER 8/7/2010 5:11PM

    Sylvia, I read your blog and it brought me to tears as well. I am so sorry others treated you so badly your whole life but by gosh I'm proud you are finally standing up for you and realizing that those people don't deserve a place in your world. We all have trials and tribulations but to be 'mean' and nasty to others is no way to go thru life.

I wish you all the best this upcoming school year. Your students are lucky to have you as are your sons. Continue to take care of you and remember how beautiful you are, inside and out.


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CHEFAMANDA 8/7/2010 5:10PM

    emoticon Sylvia, I already knew you were smart and kind and motivated and determined, but now I know you are also strong and brave and amazing. It breaks my heart to hear that parents can treat their children this way. It wasn't your fault and really had nothing to do with you. That was your parents' failure, not yours.
Anyone who is rude to people who don't fit their "perfect" mold is immature and insecure, so you're already way ahead of those idiots who don't treat you right.
Certainly yourself and your family needs to come before anything online. You know I've been there myself. Take the time you need to recharge knowing that you have helped and motivated hundreds (if not more) others to take care of themselves by being healthy.

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PEABODYPEGGY 8/7/2010 2:59PM

    THANK YOU ! Listening to your soul speaking out today touched me deeply. I could have been your invisible shadow. I relate to your pain, and am sorry that you experienced it. No platitudes from me. :-)

You sound like quite a talented and accomplished person. I've heard a story, as I'm sure you have too - about filling the jar .... You have to put the biggest ( or most important ) pieces in first in order for everything to fit. In this case - I think it's long overdue that you put your needs in first. You've already made room for everyone else,

I applaud you for standing up for yourself, and what you beleive in . Just how did they think those kids were going to learn with all those distractions going on ? *

Your parents and family were wrong in treating you the way they did. You are NOT a fat a$$.. You are Sylvia .

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    Your story is all too familiar! I am so sorry that you had to deal with hurts from your past, but without that you would not be who you are today. God has given you what you didn't recieve growing up, and you are giving it back two fold. You have to be so proud with what you have become. A beautiful new woman!!

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PETALS12 8/7/2010 1:45PM

    Your blog brought me to tears. You are a strong, determined and talented women. As a teacher, I feel your struggles and drive to help the children in your care.
You are truly an inspiration to others. Hang in there!

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MOTIV8U 8/7/2010 1:07PM

    Hi... I just came by to give you a emoticon Letting go of your past can be ridiculously hard, but it sounds like you have evolved into someone who understands how it affected her, but despite the pain, has continuously evolved into someone capable of giving the love that you deserved from the beginning. I truly believe transformation begins with loving and accepting our real selves, not the poor images others create of us. I wish you the emoticon on your journey.

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